Can you believe this is my 50th post since heading out on the road?!? My how time flies. After having spent just over a month in Florida, I have found that like many places, it’s never what you expect it to be. That being said, if there’s one obvious thing Florida has in spades, it’s sun. ☀️ Between the sun, the fact that Florida has zero income tax, and many parts of Florida have affordable housing, it is a popular place to retire. Even so, there are many great college towns, and most areas have public schools with A or B ratings according to niche.com, so Florida has aspects that can appeal to people of all ages.
Many of the places we visited were also quite walkable and bikeable, with walk/bike paths, but also bike lanes, ample sidewalks and other pedestrian infrastructure. Furthermore, Florida is one of the top 15 states with the highest percentage of public land, including access to Federal and State parkland, making it a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Politically speaking, most places we visited were either leaning slightly conservative or slightly liberal, and the state as a whole is fairly moderate, so you could likely find a community you would feel comfortable in.
While Florida has a lot of pluses, there are some aspects that might make it more challenging to live there. Yes, the winter months are wonderful weather-wise, but the heat and humidity during the other months is oppressive. According to one resident I spoke with, between the months of April and October it is unbearable without air conditioning. There are also a lot of bugs and other pesky critters. In fact, pretty much everywhere we visited there were signs stating not to get in the water because of alligators, so unless you have access to a pool, swimming is risky. 🐊 I also noticed that public transportation isn’t accessible in most places outside the downtown areas.
I personally found that Gainesville, Tallahassee and Homestead were quite bike-friendly, but aside from the Miami Beach boardwalk, I wouldn’t feel safe biking in Miami, because the drivers are pretty erratic there. The main strip in Destin was also not a place I would feel comfortable biking, and it’s unavoidable if you want to get across town. I enjoyed the access to the outdoors everywhere we went, but I still miss the mountains. Florida is mostly flat with the highest point at just 345 feet above sea level. And though I enjoyed having such lovely weather in January and February, I fear I would have reverse seasonal affective disorder not being able to enjoy the outdoors in the summertime due to stifling heat, humidity and bugs. I embrace areas that have some heat and humidity and I can handle some bugs, but Florida is a bit extreme in that regard.
All in all, I can understand why I have met so many people that split their time between spending the summer months in northern states and winter months in Florida. The farther south you go, the more like a paradise Florida is. Yet, that paradise comes at a price, because the southernmost places in Florida are also the least affordable. Regardless, I hope the experiences I shared about our travels here will inspire you to visit and explore some of the unique and wonderful places within the sunny state of Florida.